Today! Because the D is silent –
Django Unchained (2012)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino (x3)
Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio (x4), Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson (x8), Walton Goggins (x2), James Remar (x3), Dennis Christopher, Don Johnson, Franco Nero, Tom Wopat, Russ Tamblyn, Amber Tamblyn, Bruce Dern (x2), M.C. Gainey (x2), Jonah Hill (x6), Zoe Bell, Lee Horsley, Robert Carradine (x2), Ted Neeley, James Parks, Tom Savini, Quentin Tarantino (x2), Lewis Smith (x2), Daniele Watts, Gary Grubbs (x2), Don Stroud, Laura Cayouette, Dana Gourrier, Ato Essandoh, Escalante Lundy
Back-to-back Samuel L! And we’ve finally reached my second favorite film from the vaunted year of 2012. Ah, 2012! Mitt Romney lost and we as a people won – not just in politics but at the theaters, as we were treated to quite the mighty group of films. Nearly scaling the lot here was Quentin Tarantino’s hyper-violent rescue/revenge “southern” Django Unchained, his 7th full length movie and highest grossing one by a considerable margin (as of this writing, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is still some months away). He makes the strident case to not categorize this movie as a “western,” as it is set primarily in antebellum Texas, Tennessee, and Mississippi, but come on, call it what you like, this is as western as a non-western can be.
I mean, really, considering it borrows half its title and many plot/character elements from Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 film Django, I suppose if we’re aggressively splitting hairs here this is some manner of American spaghetti western/southern. Hell, Franco Nero has a cameo in the film! It’s different enough that it ascribes no actual credit to Django, going so far as being classified an original-as-opposed-to-adapted screenplay, but still similar enough that if your video store has enough sections, classifying it might prove tricky. Anyway, it’s a western. Mostly.
I was convinced before even seeing the film that Django Unchained was destined to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. I told this fact to anyone who would listen, as in 2012, we were now almost two decades into Leonardo DiCaprio’s epic quest to take home a statue. He’d been nominated a mere three times (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond) but you could see this was a clear inevitability. Hell, he’d been up for eight Golden Globes by this point (and 11 MTV Movie Awards!), winning for Aviator, so why was the Academy so stingy. Plus, hadn’t Christoph Waltz just won an Oscar for playing a Tarantino villain three years earlier? This one was in the bag!
And Django did win Best Supporting Actor! But again, for Christoph Waltz! Huh? I mean, don’t get me wrong, my prediction was made based off the trailer and the facts at hand – I didn’t realize they’d bend reality to cram Waltz in as a Supporting Actor, considering the sheer magnitude of his screen time – but still, DiCaprio wasn’t even nominated. Hugely botched prediction by this guy! It would take another three years for Leo to get that statue, for the suffer-porn epic The Revenant.
Django also won Tarantino his second Screenplay Oscar, eighteen years after Pulp Fiction. He’s only made eight feature films, so two writing Oscars ain’t bad. This is his third list film, after #131 Jackie Brown and #252 Reservoir Dogs, and he’s squarely in the conversation for most (what would you call it?) represented director on the list? That’s not right. It’s the percentage of his eligible films making the list – 85%, alongside Paul Thomas Anderson’s 83% and Wes Anderson’s 71%. Other notables are Mel Brooks at 63%, Kubrick at 54% (if you include his very early low budget films), Spielberg at 44%, and Woody Allen with 28%. This paragraph took me so long to research, you guys. It’s possible someone out there is more represented – a 1-for-1 or 2-for-2, but I don’t have time to look up everybody. Sorry!
Samuel L. Jackson has joined #224 Avengers co-star RDJ, #172 Out of Sight co-star Michael Keaton, and no connection whatsoever comedy legend John Candy in the Eight-Timers! It should’ve been obvious when I started this, but I completely overlooked Samuel L. as a possible contender for the big seat. His cross-franchise presence has him appearing all over the place – Jackie Brown, #332 Phantom Menace, #97 The Incredibles, #175 Patriot Games, #123 Jurassic Park – all sequels or franchise beginners (because again, Out of Sight and Jackie Brown have some indeterminate sequel/prequel relationship). He leads a group including Six-Timer Jonah Hill (unrecognizable on screen, under the hood as an idiot Klan member) and his #388 Wolf of Wall Street co-star, Four-Timer DiCaprio (also #296 Titanic and #167 Gangs of New York).